Special Education: Education Data Sources

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

The first stop for education data is often the NCES, the federal government’s center for “collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.” The NCES website has data from a wide variety of surveys and studies, including major longitudinal studies and cross-sectional surveys--listed at right--as well as international datasets.

The NCES also provides tools for accessing and using its data:

Data Lab has tools for researchers to query and run regressions on multiple datasets.

College Navigator collects detailed information about American colleges and universities.

Common Core of Data: America’s Public Schools is a comprehensive database of basic information on public elementary and secondary schools.

Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates (EDGE) has spatial data on U.S. education. It “uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to create custom indicators of social, economic, and housing conditions for school-age children and their parents.”

ACS-ED Maps allows the user to view demographic, economic, social, and housing data by school district.

School and District Navigator allows for easy lookup of information about school districts or schools.

IPEDS is a key source for data on postsecondary institutions and students.

In addition to these resources, NCES has several yearly publications that usefully compile education statistics.The Condition of Education gives a broad but comprehensive overview of American education, with a focus on educational trends. Digest of Education Statistics provides a detailed compilation of education stats collected every year, taken mostly from NCES studies. Both are available online for the past 30 years or so. (Earlier volumes can be found in print in the Government Documents section of Peabody Library.) Other annual reports along these lines (some of which are no longer active) are to be found here.      

Those seeking education data from the 1970s and 1980s in particular are encouraged to look through the Government Documents area in Peabody Library. Browsing through library stacks can be very enjoyable.

Databases for finding education data

Data Planet
Data Planet pulls education data from the National Center for Education Statistics and allows the user to visualize it in attractive charts and graphs. On the left-hand column of the page, select “Subject,” then “Education” to search on a variety of topics.

Statistical Abstract of the United States
An enormous data trove going back to the mid-19th century, the Statistical Abstract is particularly good for older data, as it allows the user to download large tables of print data into Excel spreadsheets. Make sure to select “All editions” from the drop-down menu if you wish to search for data in multiple years. 

International education data

OECD Education Statistics. This page includes Education at a Glance, an annual publication of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which “looks at who participates in education, what is spent on it, how education systems operate and the results achieved.”

World Bank Education Data, including the EdStats data querier.

Unesco Education Data and Tools, including the no-longer-updated World Data on Education.

Eurydice has reports and statistics on European education.

Major international education studies:

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)  (see also NCES site)

Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) (see also NCES site)

Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)

Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) (see also NCES site)

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (see also NCES site)

Other sources of education data, including print sources

Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. Much data on individual institutions.

The Chronicle of Higher Education Data

Higher Education Research Institute publications, including "American Freshman: National Norms" (and many others)

ICPSR is a major storehouse of social science data. See this LibGuide for help accessing and using ICPSR data.

Kids Count Data Center has lots of information on children and families. Also published in yearly Kids Count Data Book.

Metlife Survey of the American Teacher was published from 1984 through 2012. Later reports are online.

Monitoring the Future is “an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students,” with a focus on drug abuse. The study surveys about 50,000 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students yearly. Data is available from 1975 here. Yearly reports not available online can be found in Central Library.

National Science Foundation's surveys, many of which concern higher education.

Open Doors has data on international students and scholars in the U.S. Also available in print.

Rankings of States and Estimates of School Statistics. NEA report.

Status of the American Public School Teacher

Tennessee Statistical Abstract. Available in print from 1969 to 2003.